Fall TV lineup presents positive portrayals of same-sex relationships

When the Fall 2012 television season starts up again in a few weeks, viewers will be treated to more prominent same-sex relationships than we've seen in most recent TV seasons. In addition to a number of returning strongholds on shows like Glee, Modern Family, and Grey's Anatomy, this season will introduce two new series with leading characters in same-sex relationships. [UPDATE BELOW: Read GLAAD's new Network Responsibility Index report.]

The new shows - The New Normal and Partners - will appear on NBC and CBS, respectively. Ryan Murphy's new series The New Normal tells the story of a male couple who adopts a child from a surrogate mother, while Partners, from the duo who created Will & Grace, focuses on a friendship between a straight, newly engaged man and his gay business partner.

Partners has attracted very little controversy this summer, but The New Normal was at the center of a dust-up this week when KSL-TV, a Utah-based NBC affiliate, announced that it would not be airing the show, saying, "For our brand, this program simply feels inappropriate on several dimensions, especially during family viewing time." The series is about a loving and committed same-sex couple working to adopt a child and begin a family. 

Ellen Barkin, one of the stars of the show, responded to the controversy at a press conference earlier today. She said:

Yes, it is [an affiliate's] right to ban something, but I do think it's a form of censorship. I don't understand why a show that I happen to love, like Law and Order: SVU, is in family viewing time. Why that show, that I hope nobody is allowing a 10-year-old to watch, is acceptable but a show about a very loving, committed same sex couple wanting to raise a child, why that is explicit and offensive and rape, murder, child slavery in very graphic detail is not.

KSL-TV's condemnation of the series as "inappropriate" implies that it is unnatural or wrong for two men in a committed same-sex relationship to raise a child together. This idea that gay and lesbian people are "inappropriate" parents has been disproven by 30 years of scientific research that finds that the children of gay and lesbian couples grow up to be just as successful as the children of different-sex couples. There are two million children being raised by one million gay parents in the United States, and the only thing that would make their lives smoother would be if their parents did not have to face legal discrimination, including being denied the freedom to marry.

KSL-TV's decision to ban The New Normal promotes an unfounded, unnecessary fear of families headed by same-sex couples. You can sign a petition at Change.org asking KSL-TV to reverse its decision HERE

The characters on The New Normal and Partners join a host of same-sex couples - Grey's Anatomy's Callie and Arizona, who married last season; Glee's Santana-Brittany and Kurt-Blaine romances; and Modern Family's Mitchell and Cameron, who nearly adopted a second child in May's season finale - in the fall lineup. These relationships, while fictional, provide important representations of the love and commitment that everyday same-sex couples share. Millions of viewers - including viewers who may not yet support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples - are watching these TV shows and learning that same-sex couples often want the same thing that different-sex couples want: the freedom to marry the person they love. 

We understand that the portrayal of same-sex couples on television is far from perfect - very few gay or lesbian characters are people of color, for example - but every time a network television series features a same-sex couple discussing their love, affection, and dedication to each other, it's a step forward in showing that these kinds of relationships don't hurt communities - they strengthen and enrich them. 

Check out the most recent "Where We Are On TV" Report from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) HERE to learn more about the importance of positive media representation of gay and lesbian people and relationships. 

UPDATE: GLAAD's latest Network Responsibility Index was published today, August 30. Read the entire report here (PDF)